The Book of Poetry, tr. by James Legge, , at sacred-texts.com
In thousands now they gather there;
And side by side, and pair by pair,
The roots from out the soil they tear:—
Some in the marshes lying low;
Some where the dry paths winding go;
Some where the running waters flow.
The master see, inspecting all;
His sons, responsive to his call;
Their households also, great and small.
With them are neighbors, strong and true,
Who come all helpful work to do;
And servants hired are present too.
Hark! how the merry feast goes round!
The husbands’ hearts with love abound;
Their wives close by their sides are found.
Now they begin with patient care
The southern acres to prepare.
The soil is broken by the share.
They sow the various grains; each ear
With mystic life will soon appear,
When the young plants their heads uprear. p. 456
Behold in lines unbroken rise
The tender blades, whose lengthening size
Gains daily growth before our eyes!
Luxuriant is the sprouting grain,
And through it goes a numerous train.
Who weed it o’er and o’er again.
Erelong their work the reapers ply,
The golden grain is piled on high;
The stalks unnumbered multiply:—
Enough to make the spirits sweet,
To offer at our fathers’ feet;
To furnish what for rites is meet;
Enough, when at the fragrant board
Sit host and guest, for king and lord
The glorious banquet to afford;
Enough, when now the feast is o’er,
To satisfy the aged poor,
And cheer them from the unfailing store.
Nor now alone, but from of old,
And everywhere's the story told,
Toil reaps from earth a thousandfold.